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A Kafkaesque process

Pierre Lemieux is facing down the state over his refusal to explain, on his firearms licence renewal forms, his prior relationships. "My love affairs are none of your business," he wrote on the forms. That answer led to his being refused his firearms licence; now he's fighting the civil servants in court.

Pierre Lemieux - June 2, 2009

"Mr. Lemieux... must ask permission," said the Crown prosecutor explaining that I could not obtain a firearms licence without answering all the questions, even the most intrusive ones, on the application form. This remark could summarize the proceedings held in provincial court in Mont-Laurier, Québec, on Tuesday and Wednesday of last week.

Our traditional right to possess firearms has been degraded into a privilege for which we now have to beg the state. My firearms licence -- or what they call “my” firearms licence, since I claim I do not need a licence to peacefully own guns -- has not been renewed because I refused to answer question 6(d), “During the past (2) years, have you experienced a divorce, a separation, a breakdown of a significant relationship, job loss or bankruptcy?” Instead of checking "Yes" or "No", I wrote, "My love affairs are none of your business. / Ça ne vous regarde pas." It was to challenge this decision and the constitutionality of the whole licencing process that I was in court.

Following the arguments of the two lawyers representing the Attorney General of Canada and the Attorney General of Québec, the judge refused to hear the constitutional challenge before dealing with the refusal of the specific licence. Our expert witnesses, two of whom had come from far away, could not present their depositions.

The hearing thus fell into the abyss of administrative law, which is another way of saying that the wisdom of the bureaucrats and the politicos can barely be questioned. The applicant, or should we say “the supplicant”, shoulders the burden of proof. We were not able to produce most of our evidence, including a 2001 Privacy Commissioner’s report criticizing the intrusive questions in the firearms licence form.

The only thing my pro bono lawyer, Richard Fritze, could do was to argue that the licence had been refused without valid legal reasons. The Crown’s only witness was the Sûreté du Québec “firearms officer” who had decided not to renew “my” licence, a middle-aged, affected, ignorant, pretentious and despicable bureaucrat. Under cross-examination by Richard, she admitted that the entries “Potential Risk to Self” and “Potential Risk to Others” in their computer file, which were not mentioned in the refusal letter, are required for their system to spit out letters refusing or revoking licences. The cops, she also admitted, had nothing to suggest that I am a danger to self or others.

These false entries, kept secret from applicants, appear under the “Mandatory Refusal/Revocation Reasons” and feed the Commissioner of Firearms’ statistics on the reasons for licence refusals or revocations (look at the trumped up pie charts on page 18 of the 2007 report). We can see how reliable these statistics are -- just like the figures showing how many times cops access the “gun registry”! Defaming peaceful citizens is the stuff such statistics are made of. This disinformation is further evidence of the dangerous and fraudulent gun-control agenda, which is certainly more a “risk to others” than any gun I could ever own.

Restricted to legal technicalities, Richard also argued that the intrusive question I had refused to answer was allowed by neither the Firearms Act nor the related regulations. What the law mentions, replied the Crown prosecutor, “is a minimum”. Does this mean, countered Fritze, that applicants for firearms licences could be asked anything -- say, whether they hate homosexuals?

According to the Crown prosecutor, it matters little if I lose the right to have firearms, because I use them only for leisure activities like hunting. If he had studied any economics, he would know that leisure is more important than work: we work in order to enjoy leisure, not the other way around. Richard Fritze rightly replied that guns are also useful to exercise one’s right of self-defence as allowed by the Criminal Code.

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